How to Make a Beautiful Book Cover That Sells Itself

A glance is all it takes. In less than three seconds, your book is judged. No matter how we say that a book shouldn’t be judged by its cover, in this millennial epoch, it is. And in that rapid verdict, a brilliant cover design depicts a thousand words that seduces readers to look beyond the surface. It’s an introduction, a hook, a blurb, or sometimes the story itself painted in a way that doesn’t give it all but gives enough tease for you to ultimately explore its pages.

What makes a powerful lure? What captures people to buy now? We’ve collected different styles and techniques from the all-knowing eyes of the industry. You may know design, but they know what sells.


Jo Sabin


Before you get started on creating a brief for a cover design, or before starting to design one yourself, you need to decide on the message you want to send. – @roneo

“Generate excitement. Grab attention.”

“Minimal style is timeless. It helps to focus on the book’s title and author’s name.” – Jo Sabin @roneo, Beginner’s Guide to Book Cover Design

“Think like a reader, not like a writer. Covers need to make a reader “feel” something rather than “tell” them something.” – J. Pepper Bryars @JPepperBryars, 9 authors’ tips for a brilliant book cover design by Maya Lekach


Joel Friedlander


Establish a principal focus for the cover—Nothing is more important. Your book is about something, and the cover ought to reflect that one idea clearly. – @JFbookman

“Don’t fall into the trap of loading up your cover with too many elements, 3 or 4 photos, illustrations, maps, “floating” ticket stubs.” – Joel Friedlander @JFbookman, Top 8 Cover Design Tips for Self-Publishers

“Sell the selling points on the cover.” – Valerie Peterson @PetersonValerie, Designing a Book Jacket – Tips and Advice


Anna Lewis


Consider different formats. @anna_cn

“If you’re planning to have an image that wraps around the whole cover, then the images will have to be even bigger. You can always reduce size and quality, but if you start from a small size then increasing it is impossible without further lowering quality. Stretched or blurry images quickly undermine a professionally designed cover!” – Anna Lewis @anna_cn, Four steps to create a great cover for your self-published book

“Do create a Mood Board. Take photos, take screenshots of typefaces that you like, find colours and patterns that resonate with the book’s contents, and organise them into common themes.” – Anna Lewis @anna_cn, Self-Publishing: Cover Design

“Make your title a different color than your background. Using a light color behind a darker colored font, or an extremely contrasting dark color behind a white or almost white font is a good way to make sure your title is readable.” – Kristen Eckstein @KristenJoyful, The Five Secrets to a Killer eBook Cover

“Find out what colours work  by testing testing and testing again. Try different combinations next to each other to see what works.” – James (Humble Nations) @humblenations, 14 Tips for Good Kindle Cover Design


Brian A. Klems


The title should be big and easy to read. This is more important than ever. – @BrianKlems

“Don’t forget to review a thumbnail image of the cover. More people are buying books on a Kindle or mobile device, so you want the cover to read clearly no matter where it appears.”

“Do not use any of the following fonts (anywhere!): Comic Sans or Papyrus. These fonts are only acceptable if you are writing a humor book, or intentionally attempting to create a design that publishing professionals will laugh at.”

“Do not use your own artwork, or your children’s artwork, on the cover.”

“Do not use cheap clip art on your cover. I’m talking about the stuff that comes free with Microsoft Word or other cheap layout programs. Quality stock photography is OK. (iStockPhoto is one reliable source for quality images.)” – Brian A. Klems @BrianKlems10 Tips for Effective Book Covers

“Use the glance test. Look at it and look away.” – Anthony Puttee @BookCoverCafe, Book Cover Design Tips With Book Cover Designer Anthony Puttee by Joanna Penn

“Can you tell what kind of book it is? This is important for it standing out. But make sure the cover is also good at a large size e.g. for fliers, posters if you are doing live events.” – Anthony Puttee @BookCoverCafe, Book Cover Design Tips With Book Cover Designer Anthony Puttee by Joanna Penn


Oliver Munday


“Conceptual, smart, and strong cover design is not about style; it’s not about decoration; it’s about an idea and a clear way of communicating that idea.”

“There’s so much with color choice that’s almost arbitrary. Sometimes it’s just an accident. I’ll be looking to change a color and something comes up on the screen, like a luminal phase between a green and a red. So you just never know.”

“While I enjoy completely filling the book cover space with lots of craziness, I also enjoy that same space with a lot of room for something to breathe and to exist.”

“If you spend a lot more time thinking about an idea, when you actually sit down to design, it’s complete. You have less work to do there.” – Oliver Munday, Mastering Minimalism in Book Cover Design with Oliver Munday by Alexander Huls


John Kremer

john kremer

The basic rule of cover design is that the cover should match the contents of the book. That means that the style, format, and message of the cover should be compatible with and support the style, format, and message of the book itself. – John Kremer @JohnKremer, Book Design: Elements of Good Cover Design

“Avoid clichés. Although my book is about finance, it’s a unique and personal book, and I wanted this conveyed through its cover. I didn’t want it to feature dollar bills or piggy banks or any of that cliché stuff.” – Jim Miller @jimmillersworld, 9 authors’ tips for a brilliant book cover design by Maya Lekach

“Take a copy of your book cover into store, go to the relevant shelf and see if it fits. Does it stand out? If it does, it’s probably wrong. The blurb and the cover and the writing is unique, but the only way the reader will discover it is if the packaging explains, at a subconscious level, what the words are about. You wouldn’t expect to open a cornflakes pack and find pasta, would you? Same deal.” – Emma Barnes @bibliocloud, Self-Publishing: Cover Design


Peter Mendelsund


The path of least resistance when you’re designing a jacket is to give that particular demographic exactly what they want. – Peter Mendelsund @mendelsund, What Makes for a Brilliant Book Cover? A Master Explains by Kyle Vanhemert

“Check with Google on the words that are most searched on your topic.” – Scott Lorenz @aBookPublicist, 15 Tips for Great Book Cover Design

“Use social media to get input from fans – and listen! After all, it’s my fans – my audience – that matters. So I listened to them.” – Federico Pistono @FedericoPistono, 9 authors’ tips for a brilliant book cover design by Maya Lekach

“Understand your competition. Visit websites such as this Monthly eBook Cover Design Competition, or simply scroll through the relevant categories in the Amazon store to gain a deeper insight into the kinds of eBook covers yours will be up against.” – Jess Matthews @JessMatthews22, 5 Simple Tips for eBook Cover Design Success


Martin Taylor


Your cover design will essentially be built up from three layers: Background, image, type. – @nztaylor

“Because of rapidly improving screen technologies, you should ensure all cover images are created at a minimum size of 2500 pixels on the shortest side and 300 dpi. That means you’ll be able to output most resolutions required today.” – Martin Taylor @nztaylor, Ebook cover design tips and techniques

“A beautifully detailed cover which draws bookshop readers won’t look the same online. Not only will tactile design elements like foiling and embossing be lost, but design that looks incredible at 9” x 6” will be crunched and squashed down to a measly few centimetres.

To add insult to injury, if you buy into the option of Amazon’s sampling facility, it will add a ‘look inside’ banner, which further squishes the cover, and draws the eye away from the design. For many books that look wonderful in print, you can’t even read the title online, let alone the all-important ‘bestselling’ text, which has been proven to make readers buy.” – Simon Avery @idobookcovers, Publishing: How to Design The Best Book Cover for Online Sales


Derek Murphy

derek murphy

The cover isn’t a place to be creative. The cover is packaging. It’s an online advertisement. – @Creativindie

“It’s either going to grab and hold someone’s interest just enough to get them to read the sales copy, or it’s a complete failure and waste of space.” – Derek Murphy @Creativindie, Creativindie Covers

“Don’t make it yourself.” – Shayna Krishnasamy @shaynakrish, So, About That Cover: Book Cover Design Tips From a Merchandiser

“People will remember your name from becoming famous for your writing, not for your name itself. In a way, the bigger the name, if you’re not well established, the more egotistical and desperate to be famous, it makes your look.” – – James (Humble Nations) @humblenations, 14 Tips for Good Kindle Cover Design


Scott Berkun


I wrote up a short design brief that’s good for any book cover: Bet big on one visual concept. Title should be readable in thumbnail / 10 feet away. Simplicity wins. Be bold. Scott Berkun @berkun, How to design a great book cover (Behind the scenes)

“When it came time to create a cover for my novel, I felt like I had a leg up in knowing how to speak the language of these exotic creatures. It all boils down to three key concepts: give them room to explore, be specific and upbeat with feedback, and remain open to surprise.” – Tom Rogers @tomrogersbook, An Animated Approach to Cover Design




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